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Growing and developing Singapore’s healthcare workers

Scholarships and training programmes to help grow and transform the healthcare workforce.

09 Mar 2017

To support an ageing population and the growing chronic disease burden, there is a need for Singapore to grow and transform its healthcare workforce, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) during the Committee of Supply debate on Thursday, 9th March.

Speaking in Parliament, Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor said that 9,000 additional staff will be needed in public healthcare and aged care settings over the next three years. About 50% of these jobs will be PMET level roles such as nurses, therapists and administrative executives.

DEVELOPING THE LOCAL WORKFORCE

Allied health professionals (AHP): The Singapore Institute of Technology will be increasing the number of places in its AHP courses by 30% to 300 students for fresh school leavers and mid-career professionals.

Attracting mid-career professionals: An additional S$24 million will be invested over the next three years to enhance the ministry’s healthcare conversion and training programmes. Funding for nursing Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) training will be increased so that employers would only need to co-fund 10% of the training cost, down from the current co-fund range of 20% to 50%.

On-the-job training support of S$12,000 per mid-career enrolled nurse and S$16,000 per mid-career registered nurse will also be provided to employers. MOH will also tap on the Ministry of Manpower’s new Attach and Train scheme.

Overseas nursing scholarship: MOH will introduce a new overseas nursing scholarship under the Healthcare Graduate Studies Award (HGSA) for non-nursing degree holders, including fresh graduates and those with prior work experience. The course will be fully sponsored, including tuition fees and maintenance allowances. MOH will target to give out 20 scholarships annually.

Non-clinical roles for PMETs: Public healthcare clusters will offer administrative and executive positions under Workforce Singapore’s PCP for Professional Executives. The Regional Healthcare Systems (RHSes) will train more mid-career Singaporeans as Care Coordinator Associates. Several public hospitals have also created Basic Care Assistants positions to help nurses. MOH will be providing on-the-job training support of S$10,000 for each Basic Care Assistant hired.

NEW JOBS IN AGED CARE SECTOR

MOH will be strengthening home and community care options to help seniors age comfortably at home and in the community.

Enhancements to training programmes: The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will be enhancing the Community Care Traineeship Programme (CCTP), a Place and Train programme. More structured bite-sized training will be included in the programme to help Singaporeans take up more healthcare and therapy assistant roles. Training support of S$10,000 will also be provided to employers for each new care worker.

The “Return to Nursing” programme will also be enhanced to encourage non-practising local nurses to rejoin the sector and take up new positions in the aged care sector. Those in the programme will draw full salaries instead of training allowances, and enjoy a bonus of between S$3,000 and S$5,000 for transiting into aged care.

A FUTURE-READY HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE

The MOH set up the Future Nursing Career Review Committee in April 2016 to help develop a future-ready nursing workforce. The committee has since identified three areas of focus: Care, Community, and Competency.

Focus on patient care: The ministry will encourage public healthcare institutions to review nurses’ roles so that they can spend more time on direct patient care and take on deeper nursing care roles.

Develop community nursing: RHSes will expand the existing pilot manpower partnership scheme where they can hire and deploy nurses across their community care partners. RHSes will also pilot a community nursing team network, comprising nurses and support care staff, to provide care for patients from hospital to home.

The ministry will also introduce a Community Nursing Scholarship later this year to attract ‘O’ and ‘A’ level students into nursing with a specialisation in community nursing.

Developing competencies of nurses:  A review of the nursing training system to better support nurses in developing deeper, future-ready skills will be conducted by a newly convened Nursing Education Executive Committee (NEEC). The ministry will also work with unions and healthcare institutions to engage nurses through focus groups to hear more ideas.

Skills framework: MOH is working with SkillsFuture Singapore to develop a Skills Framework for the healthcare sector to support healthcare workers in their professional and career development.

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